When life gives you lemons, make lemonade … but what do you do when life skips the lemons, hands you three gallons of lemonade, and chants, “Chug it, chug it!” with the enthusiasm of a fraternity initiation? I, personally, could only happily enjoy one glass of lemonade before the power of diminishing returns would begin to take affect. When it comes to life and lemonade, you can have too much of a good thing.
At this point in my life, I am working creatively and optimistically to make opportunities for myself. I believe a lot in the power of positive thinking and the influence of visualization, most likely because this is the coping mechanism I developed after hitting rock bottom about a year ago.
I used to be that person who sat on Craigslist for hours searching for answers, turning in hundreds of online applications without response. One by one, I was rejected from such positions as environmental law office assistant, Amazon jungle cruise operator, gardener, house painter, bartender etc etc. Even Oscar Mayer Wiener turned me down when I applied to drive their Wiener Mobile around America. I desperately wanted to be a “Hotdogger.” At least I scored the phone interview, but it was a personality screening, so does that say something about me?
From reaching that desperate place, where I literally woke up some mornings feeling without a purpose, I trained myself to make something out of nothing, but no one ever told me what to do when you are suddenly given too many great options to choose from.
Buenos Aires, Better Opportunities
Despite my status as illegal immigrant in Argentina, I at last formed a lifestyle that I am excited about. I began volunteering as grant writer with Mariano’s non-profit, and working as a hostess/translator at a local Argentinean grill. I was content until, along with the fury of the raging sun and blistering city heat, there came rushing in the test to everything I had established.
One morning, Mariano summons me to his office. Using the nickname he chose for me he says, “Che, Super Meg,” and he begins rolling his marble between his palms. Give and receive. “I see ourselves on the edge of something big.” We had just discovered a number of potential funding opportunities, but were moving at a slow pace since I only came into the office three times a week.
“I really want to press forward, so, how about I begin paying you for your work if you come more hours?” I was amazed. I would have offered to come for free, but I couldn’t possibly say no to his generous proposal. Then ….. an email shot into my mailbox …
It was from the director of a program in Argentina called Connecting Schools to the World. For a reasonable fee, participants are sent to live with a family in the countryside and teach English at a local school. After investigating the program from all angles, I can confirm that it is not only legitimate but also a fantastic experience. Earlier, I had written the director to tell her I wouldn’t be participating because I couldn’t afford the tuition.
That afternoon, she wrote me back generously offering a couple small projects, which would more than likely cover the fee. If I accepted her offer, I would start training in a week, and move to Cordoba by the end of the month. This would also mean turning down Mariano’s offer. I needed a tranquil place to consider my options, so I went home.
As I walked in the door, Mabel (the señora that started living with us not too long ago) leaps into my path and shouts, “I’m ready to start English classes with you! How about this Thursday?”
“Ummmm…sure,” I tell her. We had been discussing the idea of doing conversation classes together, but had never set a date. Suddenly, she was ready.
That evening, I went to work at the Parrilla. When I entered the restaurant, I gave all of the waiters a kiss on the cheek, which is the customary Argentinean greeting. One waiter, Alejandro, just about breezes by me on the way to a table, but stops to tell me, “Megan, this week you and me, we’re going to start English classes. I want two times a week, one hour each session. We can meet at McDonald’s down the street just before work!”
“Of course!” I say enthusiastically, but as he walks away, I slump over the hostess stand. What to do! The feeling of indecision was tangoing at the base of my stomach.
I saw the positive side in everything I had been offered. Each opportunity to me sounded as adventurous and exciting as the other even though the experiences would be remarkably different. Even if I stayed in Buenos Aires, I wouldn’t have time for it all. What path was mine? And how ever could I say no to anything that’s good? What would I be missing out on by closing doors? I didn’t know how to decide. I’m not the type who draws out charts to weigh pros and cons.
But naturally amidst my state of indecision, there arose a natural, unmistakable intuition. It was an overwhelmingly powerful whisper that told me, even though I couldn’t foresee the outcome, my time in Buenos Aires is not complete. Something is evolving here, be it a challenge or an opportunity.
So, I made the difficult decision to just go with that feeling and continue forward with what I am currently creating. This feeling couldn’t possibly be misguided if it arose from inside me. It was the same intuition that brought me here originally, and for whatever reason, is the same that keeps me here now as well.
“Always listen to the little voice.” – A quote from my mother that thus far has proved to be true, whatever the truth may be.